Blue Collar


DEFINITION of 'Blue Collar'

A working-class person historically defined by hourly rates of pay and manual labor. A blue collar worker refers to the fact that most manual laborers at the turn of the century wore blue shirts, which could hold a little dirt around the collar without standing out.

This working class stands in contrast to white collar workers, which historically have had the higher-paying, salaried positions to go with their clean and pressed white shirts.


The term blue collar has in the past implied a certain lack of worker education as well, but those lines are blurred today. Today blue collar workers can be formally educated, skilled and highly paid. They can also earn more annually then some of their white collar counterparts.

The rate of college attendance in the U.S. has skyrocketed in the past 100 years, democratizing the education level once reserved for only wealthy families. Blue collar work does not typically carry a negative connotation in the United States, and has in fact been a source of multi-generational pride for millions, especially in the geographic northeast, where most of country's heavy industry first developed over 150 years ago.

  1. Middle Class

    Individuals who fall between the working class and the upper ...
  2. Working Class

    A socioeconomic term used to describe persons in a social class ...
  3. Grunt Work

    An expression used to describe thankless and menial work. Grunt ...
  4. Blue Collar Trader

    A trader who has another source of income, and does not trade ...
  5. Employment Cost Index - ECI

    A quarterly report from the U.S. Department of Labor that measures ...
  6. Unemployment Rate

    The percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed but ...
Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Invest In Yourself With A College Education

    Spending a few thousand dollars on school could help you earn millions more.
  2. Retirement

    The Generation Gap

    Studies suggest that young workers may not be able to retire comfortably - or at all.
  3. Economics

    What You Need To Know About The Employment Report

    This widely watched indicator of economic well-being directly influences the market.
  4. Personal Finance

    Are We Losing The Middle Class?

    Find out where your income and lifestyle put you compared to the national average.
  5. Budgeting

    Teaching Your Child To Be Financially Savvy

    If you start today, you can set your kids up for a lifetime of smart money management.
  6. Economics

    Understanding Income Inequality

    Income inequality refers to the uneven distribution of income across a single economy.
  7. Technical Indicators

    Explaining Autocorrelation

    Autocorrelation is the measure of an internal correlation with a given time series.
  8. Term

    Public Goods & Free Riders

    A public good is an item whose consumption is determined by society, not individual consumers.
  9. Investing Basics

    What Does In Specie Mean?

    In specie describes the distribution of an asset in its physical form instead of cash.
  10. Insurance

    What is a Force Majeure?

    A force majeure clause frees both parties in a contract from fulfilling their obligations in the event of some catastrophic or unexpected occurrence.
  1. Is Colombia an emerging market economy?

    Colombia meets the criteria of an emerging market economy. The South American country has a much lower gross domestic product, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is Mexico an emerging market economy?

    Mexico meets all the criteria of an emerging market economy. The country's gross domestic product, or GDP, per capita beats ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is Argentina a developed country?

    Argentina is not a developed country. It has one of the strongest economies in South America or Central America and ranks ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is Brazil a developed country?

    Brazil is not a developed country. Though it has the largest economy in South America or Central America, Brazil is still ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between marginal utility and marginal value?

    Depending on the context, marginal utility and marginal value can describe the same thing. The key word for each is "marginal," ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. In economics, what is an index number?

    Economists often make comparisons between sets of data across time. For example, a macroeconomist might want to measure changes ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Purchasing Power

    The value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. Purchasing ...
  2. Real Estate Investment Trust - REIT

    A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges ...
  3. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  4. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  5. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  6. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!